Friday, December 10, 2010

Global Health Symposium

Day-long event draws physicians, scientists and policy makers

GLOBAL HEALTH ADVOCATES: From left, Goosby, Gwenigale, Bangsberg, Farmer, Kerry and Slavin at the Nov. 12 event

The MGH has a longstanding history caring for its neighbors. What began 200 years ago as an effort in Boston to assist local neighbors in distress has expanded today into the hospital reaching out internationally to care for neighbors around the world. With this in mind, on Nov. 12, the MGH Center for Global Health hosted its inaugural symposium at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Entitled 'Broadening the Response: The Role of Academic Medical Centers in Global Health," the day-long event drew global health leaders from around the world as well as prominent U.S. officials, including Sen. John F. Kerry and Ambassador and Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 1,000 attendees, MGH Center for Global Health Director David Bangsberg, MD, MPH, welcomed the group and outlined the need to build lasting international partnerships.

"We will make progress in the short term, but the challenges in global health are too complex to solve in a single generation," he said. "This is why, above all else, we need to invest in the next generation here and, more importantly, invest in the next generation abroad to make a generation-spanning difference."

The day’s events began with remarks from MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD, and Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, MS, FAAN, senior vice president for Patient Care Services and chief nurse. Noting the hospital’s upcoming bicentennial, Slavin reflected on the MGH’s 200-year commitment to the community.

"At the time of the MGH’s founding, our neighbors included the residents of Boston and its surrounding communities," he said. "Today our neighbors also live in places like Uganda, South Africa, Liberia, Bangladesh, Haiti and elsewhere. While our neighbors may live in different places, our commitment to serving them remains the same."

Invited speakers – including Kerry, Goosby, Walter T. Gwenigale, MD, Liberian minister of Health and Social Welfare, and Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, co-founder of Partners in Health – offered remarks and participated in a panel discussion moderated by Bangsberg. Panelists took questions from the audience and discussed ways academic medical centers, nongovernmental organizations and government officials can partner with local health leaders around the world to develop health infrastructures to help train and retain the best caregivers abroad.

The first panel, “Practicing Global Health Across Disciplines,” highlighted the importance of strong working relationships with local populations. Panelists were Peter Mugyenyi, MD, director of the Joint Clinical Research Center in Uganda; David Henderson, MD, director of the Chester M. Pierce, MD, MGH Division of Global Psychiatry; Kristian Olson, MD, MPH, global health program leader at the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology; Laurence Ronan, MD, co-director of the MGH Center for Global Health’s Office of Disaster Response; and Bruce Walker, MD, director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard.

The day’s final discussion, "Training the Next Generation of Global Health Leaders: Sustaining Careers at MGH and Abroad," was moderated by Vanessa Bradford Kerry, MD, associate director for Education and External Affairs at the MGH Center for Global Health. Participants were Grace Deveney, RN, MPH, of the Center for Global Health; Tayyaba Hasan, PhD, director of the MGH Office of Research Career Development; Frederick Kayanja, MD, vice chancellor of Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda; and Thumbi Ndung’u, BVM, PhD, scientific director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme at the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

"The symposium was a great opportunity to bring together some of the foremost leaders in global health," says Bangsberg. "Each of our invited speakers and guests engaged with each other in a provocative manner to create a new energy and perspective on global health."

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